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Please read the Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record caveat document.

Name:Black Ball Camp, Gallox Hill
ENPHER Monument Number:MSO9410
Type of Record:Monument
Grid Reference:SS 9842 4264
Parish:DUNSTER, WEST SOMERSET, SOMERSET

Summary

An Iron Age univallate hill-slope enclosure on Gallox Hill in Dunster Park. It measures 100m by 80m, and is defined by a prominent bank with an external ditch, and a slight external counterscarp bank.

Images

Black Ball Camp. 2009  © Exmoor National Park Authority

Black Ball Camp. 2009 © Exmoor National Park Authority

Black Ball Camp. 2008  © Exmoor National Park Authority

Black Ball Camp. 2008 © Exmoor National Park Authority

Monument Types

Description

A 'Camp' is marked at SS 98434265 on historic mapping. (1)

Circular camp, about 120 yards in diameter, situated about 0.75 mile south-south-west of Dunster. It is surrounded by a bank of stones and earth, with an outer ditch, and also, for about a third of the circumference on the west side, a low bank on the counterscarp of the ditch. The entrance is on the southwest, and on the left hand, the bank turns inwards and there are indications of the foundations of a circular breastwork or tower. [Listed under 'Simple Enclosed Camps']. (2)

Black Ball Camp, a univallate Hillfort is under 3 acres. (4)

This is a moderately strong Iron Age earthwork situated on a western slope. It is univallate, with a counterscarp bank, which is strongest on the down-hill side and continuous except for some 50 metres on the northeast. There has been modern disturbance of the western side of the inturned entrace and no original circular structure, as described by Bothamley, can be identified. Re-surveyed at 1:2500. (6)

SS 984426. Black Ball or British Camp. Iron Age univallate hill-slope enclosure visible on aerial photography, which shows ancient ploughing in the interior of the site. (7)

The ditch is generally 2 metres deep and the bank 3 metres high. The counterscarp bank is on the northwest side. The entrance is on the southwest side, opening towards the steepest approach. The area around the entrance gap is disturbed. (8)

The earthwork is regarded as being an outwork of Bat's Castle, 600 metres to the southeast. (9)

A 'Settlement' is marked at SS 98434265 on historic mapping. (10)

Black Ball Camp is an oval univallate enclosure occupying a hillslope position overlooking the valley of the River Avill, at its junction with an un-named valley running north-south. The enclosure measures 100 metres west-east by 80 metres north-south ,and is defined by a prominent bank some 2.4 metres high with external ditch 1.6 metres deep, and slight external counterscarp bank (on the south, west and north). It is covered in dense bilberry and heather, with some holly and hawthorn trees obscuring the ramparts. The interior is obscured by large numbers of ant hills. On the south-western side there is a single entrance defined by slight inturns on the rampart terminals and by a causeway 6.7 metres wide. The causeway is very disturbed and has a hollow 6.5 metres long and 0.5 metres deep dug into it. On the northern side of the entrance, (within the enclosure) is a circular spread of stone 8.7 metres across, which has the superficial appearance of a platform, but is more likely to be a stone dump. On the southern side of the entrance is a platform 5 metres across defined by a tussocky bank 0.3 metres high and 1.4 metres wide; this may be a hut stance. (16)

The hillslope enclosure described above is clearly visible on aerial photographs, both vertical and oblique, examined as part of the Exmoor National Park National Mapping Programme. (18, 19)

The features are disturbed, but the bank and ditch are impressive, and the entrance and causeway are clear. The interior measures 72 metres. There is loose stone nearby. The interior is uneven, but a possible hut circle is visible. (21)

The bank is most impressive on the west side. There are trees and shrubs on the banks and in the ditches. Stone is exposed in several places. The entrance area is disturbed, but forms a definite inturn. The interior is also disturbed by vegetation, rabbits and ant hills. No real earthwork evidence for ridge and furrow, but the vegetation may be hiding it. Good vegetation cover of grass, heather and bracken with some small trees. There is a possible hut circle in the southeast corner, near the entrance. (26)

A defended enclosure containing 0.3 hectares of sloping land. It is encircled by a bank of up to 1.9 metres high, an external ditch of up to 1.5 metres deep, and a counterscarp bank of up to 1.9 metres high on all but the uphill side. The entrance is from downhill, on the southwest, approached by a causeway across the ditch, which is inturned and askew. Inside the entrance on the northwest is a disturbed raised circular area, perhaps a guardhouse. Inside on the southeast is a hut circle 5 metres across, perhaps contemporary with the enclosure and overlain by slumping of the rampart at the back. (29)

Black Ball Camp has suffered extreme damage from bracken, trees and seedlings. As a result the Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment of 2009 records the site as in bad condition and at high risk. (30)

Vegetation clearance was undertaken as part of the 2007/8 monument management scheme. Further work was needed in 2008/9 to concentrate on the interior of the camp. (31)

Sources and Further Reading

[1]SEM7220 - Map: Ordnance Survey. 1962. 6 Inch Map. 1:10560.
[2]SMO5358 - Monograph: Page, W. (editor). 1911. The Victoria History of the County of Somerset. Archibald Constable and Company, Limited (London). 2. Bothamley, C.H. P.508.
[3]SMO7004 - Report: Ministry of Works. 1961. Ancient Monuments in England and Wales. P.82.
[4]SMO5622 - Monograph: Ordnance Survey. 1962. Ordnance Survey Map of Southern Britain in the Iron Age. Ordnance Survey. P.45.
[5]SMO4067 - Aerial Photograph: Aerial photograph reference number . St Joseph -CG/069.
[6]SMO5103 - Unpublished document: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Field Investigators Comments. F1. Pitcher, G.H., 16/06/1965.
[7]SMO4067 - Aerial Photograph: Aerial photograph reference number . West Air Photography, 29/05/1974. NMR no SS 9842/2.
[8]SSO825 - Article in serial: Burrow, I.. 1981. Hillfort and Hilltop Settlement in the First to Eighth Centuries AD. British Archaeological Reports. 91. P.256.
[9]SSO1173 - Article in serial: Forde-Johnson, J.. 1962. Earl's Hill, Pontesbury and Related Hillforts in England and Wales. Archaeological Journal. 119. P.82, 86-7.
[10]SEM7530 - Map: Ordnance Survey. 1974. 1:10000 Map. 1:10000.
[11]SMO5064 - Monograph: Allcroft, A.H.. 1908. Earthwork of England: Prehistoric, Roman, Saxon, Danish, Norman, and Mediaeval. Macmillan (London). P.137.
[12]SSO820 - Monograph: Burrow, E.J.. 1924. Ancient Earthworks and Camps of Somerset. P.106-7.
[13]SSO1043 - Article in serial: Dixon, J.. 1980. Somerset Parish Survey 3: Carhampton. Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. 15 No D4.
[14]SSO1778 - Monograph: Page, J.L.W.. 1890. An Exploration of Exmoor and the Hill Country of West Somerset: With Notes on its Archaeology. P.202.
[15]SMO4578 - Monograph: Grinsell, L.V.. 1970. The Archaeology of Exmoor: Bideford Bay to Bridgewater. David and Charles Limited. P.87, 201.
[16]SMO5111 - Unpublished document: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. Field Investigators Comment. Wilson-North, R. 07/04/1998.
[17]SMO1182 - Photograph: Plan of Dunster Camp. OS63/F376/1. B/W.
[18]SEM6707 - Aerial Photograph: Royal Air Force. 1946 -1948. Vertical Aerial Photography. RAF CPE/UK/1980 3018, 4217-19. 11/04/1947.
[19]SMO4069 - Aerial Photograph: Oblique Aerial Photograph. NMR SS 9842/50, 15864/30. 20/01/1998.
[20]SEM7441 - Index: Ordnance Survey. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Record Card. SS94SE4. 1965.
[21]SSO1247 - Report: Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission. Field Monument Warden Report.
[22]SSO420 - Photograph: Somerset County Council Planning Department. Slide. 3.010.0707. -/03/1984.
[23]SSO708 - Survey: Western Archaeological Trust. 1980s. Exmoor Aerial Photograph Survey. 9842.
[24]SMO4069 - Aerial Photograph: Oblique Aerial Photograph. -/09/19?, HSL.UK.71-177. Run 99. 8804.
[25]SSO420 - Photograph: Somerset County Council Planning Department. Slide. -/07/1979. 3.005.0036-0037.
[26]SMO5308 - Verbal communication: Oral Information or Staff Comments. Dennison, E. Somerset County Council. 03/03/1989.
[27]SEM7171 - Aerial Photograph: Griffith, F.. 1980s-1990s. Devon Aerial Photographs. DAP/OF9, 10. DAP/QK9-11 SCED. 1989, 1990..
[28]SSO1116 - Correspondence: English Heritage. Letter from English Heritage to Somerset County Council. 09/02/1994.
[29]SSO1801 - Report: Preece, A.. 1993-1994. English Heritage Monument Protection Programme.
[30]SEM7744 - Report: Bray, L.S.. 2009. Final Results Table: Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment.
[31]SEM7897 - Report: Exmoor National Park Authority. 2009. Monument Management Scheme: 2008-9 Report. P. 9.

Related records

MSO9082Related to: Bat's Castle, in Dunster Park (Monument)
MSO12261Related to: Field banks, Black Ball Camp, Dunster (Monument)

Other References

  • Monarch UID: 36857
  • National Monuments Record: SS 94 SE4
  • SHINE Candidate (Yes)
  • Somerset SMR (Somerset): 33565
Date Last Edited:Oct